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Tattoo Pain Explained!

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Text Comments (938)
sammanthat (3 months ago)
Hey there, I just wanted to expound more on your point on why it's more painful in certain areas (from a nursing/medical POV)! Pain tends to be worse around bony prominences (knees, elbows, shoulders, ribs, fingers, etc.) because the nerves tend to lay closer to the bones and joint areas and where there isn't a lot of muscle and fat tissues, the nerves are more exposed and therefore more sensitive to pain than say the calf area or the front of the thigh.
Jennifer Plaza (4 hours ago)
We have very little nerve in our elbows you can literally pinch your elbow skin as hard as you can and you won’t hurt , it ONLY has to do with nerves and what parts of the body we have the most
Skyler.G (21 days ago)
That was my least painful tattoo. Kittens
Rachel Laylee (28 days ago)
+sammanthat I've experienced this before. To me personally I feel the nerve pain. Nerves can also be in clusters. I had a tattoo under my collar bone. So it's a fleshy area for me as I have a large chest. But there where two spots that felt like a mild burning situation. Some people are more sensitive to nerve pain like me. So some areas hurt alot and others feel like the cat scratch.
K w i t t e n s ღ (1 month ago)
So is the wrist a sensitive area? There’s a lot of veins there
Jeni Watkins (1 month ago)
+AdamAldo Smith Mitch i have upper back work and none of those were not bad at all. I also have the back of my neck and it was easy.
jay f (1 hour ago)
Good video. This guy talks sense!
Neel Verma (6 hours ago)
I have a question. So, I have a flinching/muscle twitching issue, but I want tattoos. So, what would you recommend? I can control it to an extent, but if it happens, I want to minimize the effect on my tattoo.
Mase44 (17 hours ago)
I got a big one on my calf and it was the worst out of all of mine. So uncomfortable.
Dan Benson (18 hours ago)
People everywhere that wants to get a tattoo, Listen to Jim, great video Jim!!!
Dan Benson (18 hours ago)
My upper body is almost all tattooed and I agree with you, the sternum hurt the most for me, WOW!!, did it!!
gabriel reyes (1 day ago)
If I take Advil you think that will help reduce the pain?
James Withee (1 day ago)
i might be wrong but i'm pretty sure advil is one of the meds that thins the blood. if it is, don't take that before getting a tattoo, it can negatively affect the tattoo process
HazeWulfDemonic (1 day ago)
Yep.. The worst was the ribcage, ruined my tattoo I moved so much. It needs way more work, but I don't think so.. I'm a little guy, with next to no meat on me. Maybe some heavy drugs, but that's kinda sketchy.
daneth noy (1 day ago)
They are pressing a needle in you and the ink is going into the 1st layer of your skin, so the ink is sitting in your skin and which is why They use a laser to remove tats bc the laser is think enough to go between the skin and burn/extract the ink,but I'm getting off tract. Basically since the needle goes in you it's a probability the needle could be near your nerves which is usually near bone which is why you feel pain. The places with more muscles like your butt doesn't hurt as much
daneth noy (1 day ago)
Tattoo virgin and I really want a traditional Japanese Dragon on my back or a sleeve
Exeletry (1 day ago)
Im 13 and im lookin to get a tattoo, would i feel more pain?
Becca Schlomann (2 days ago)
This was a great video (and the comment section is really helpful too since everyone's experiences will vary). I find it doesn't feel that bad at first, it's the prolonged scratching feeling and increasing soreness that gets difficult. None of mine are super huge, but after the artist has outlined and the area is sore, then they go back and do shading, then go back and do color or more shading, and then go back to do the final touches, you're just so sore and like "are we done yet?! 😩" But the pain is fleeting and then you have an awesome piece of art on your body and it's worth every minute. It is interesting what you said about women who've given birth tend to sit well. I've only had a couple smaller tattoos since having my two kids. One was about 45 minutes and the other even less, and they definitely were easier than all my others before kids. But I think part of that is bc I just remember some of the coping mechanisms I learned for dealing with childbirth. Our bodies want to move away from pain, but in childbirth, you have to just accept it, and relax and allow the contractions to do their job so your baby can come. You learn to breath through the pain, which helps it be less painful, and relax, which also helps it be less painful, and you know it's only for a time and will result in something good. It's a productive pain (think also like the pain or soreness if you're training for a marathon or big athletic or sporting event). All of that helped me through childbirth and, I think, can be applied to tattoos. (Childbirth is still much more painful than getting tattooed, though, lol. Worth it, though.)
KjM (2 days ago)
You thoughts on Behind the ear ?
James Withee (2 days ago)
i've done a bunch of them.. personally i would never get one there, even if i was a chick (usually girls are the only ones that get tattoos there). there are a fuckload of capillaries in that area so linework tends to look blurry because the ink spreads out and the result is a tattoo that looks old even if it's new. it's just not very high quality skin, and the novelty of the placement isn't worth it in my opinion. but to each their own. if you get something back there, go simple on the design so that the details don't mush together and make it a smudge of a tattoo
Mighty Mopar (3 days ago)
F.I.Y for all you smokers out there, smoking a joint/blunt before getting a tattoo does NOT reduce the pain. In my opinion it actually makes you feel it more.
Josh Bryant (3 days ago)
Chest was most painful for me. Elbow sucked too. Throat suprisingly didnt hurt and top of head wasnt as bad as I thought it was gonna be but was still uncomfortable
the zohan (3 days ago)
The itching is the hardest part for me hahaha, lol
E Schur (3 days ago)
Funny how you just walk out of frame in the end.... Helpful vid though..
James Withee (3 days ago)
It's the only move I know
D Rock 75 (4 days ago)
This all makes a lot of sense in my eyes. To me, it feels more like a burn than a needle. Like, it's much less than a cigarette burn or something, but definitely more than a needle scratching my skin. I've been through a metric shit-ton of pain in my life and I actually started to enjoy the feeling, to the point of it starting to lull me to sleep.
Reigns Amore (5 days ago)
My first tattoo's gonna be full sleeve
Donut juice (5 days ago)
Top of the hand, 1-10 pain meter?
James Withee (4 days ago)
6 or 7. it depends on the person
RedMist LFC (5 days ago)
It's got to the point where I just click like before I've even begin watching the video! How am I year late though.. smh, fab videos bro!
James Withee (4 days ago)
hah thanks man. i'mma keep them coming
Alice Stealthfox (6 days ago)
I also found that the type of tattoo matters a lot. For me, I could sit a lot longer for my dog work piece on my back than the bold colourful tattoo on my arm.
Anthony Duran (6 days ago)
just turned 16 and I’m getting a tattoo for my bday present , but like I’m getting it on my chest....I’m kinda panicking rn
MoxieRose (6 days ago)
I’m two videos in and subscribed! Just came from the “tattoos on black skin.” I have no tattoos but I’m planning on getting a few and I feel that your videos are so informative and very much needed right now. Thanks a lot for what your doing!!
James Withee (5 days ago)
thx for the sub.. i'll try to get another vid up this week
Purple Tigers (6 days ago)
Also. For some reason my back hurt more than my ribs. And my side of my butt (thigh actually lol) I didnt even feel it 😂😂
Purple Tigers (6 days ago)
This is awesome. Thank you !!
Kitten Snow (7 days ago)
What do u guys think the pain scale will be on the inner wrist (almost on the hand)??
McGturtle3 (7 days ago)
I twitch so much on my legs when they get tattooed 😫
Emily Rodrigues (7 days ago)
My foot hurt sooo bad. More people I know say the foot hurt them versus the people I know that said the ribs hurt. I know people with both and I always hear the foot hurt them the most. My finger, thigh, and wrist wasn’t near as bad. I actually almost passed out with my foot, but I was given water and a sucker and helped significantly. I get very nervous with all needles except for piercings, my tattoos always terrify my but it’s generally not an intense pain for tattoos though
Lion 8.0 (7 days ago)
I’m 17 and I want a tattoo on my calf for my 18th it’s my first tattoo is that a bad place?
Juan Do ggo (7 days ago)
Few hours ago I had my first tattoo on my whole side rib cage. I'm glad that I finished it. That was fckin hurt! Don't get tatted on your side rib cage when it's your first tatt. Lol
ChiiLL00ut (8 days ago)
Great video
Jess Fay (8 days ago)
always felt like sandpaper going over a cut to me
Salty Psychosis (9 days ago)
Mailyn Esquivel (9 days ago)
My sternum oh man it was so painful😂 but my leg was nothing ❤🌼
Lucy cos media (10 days ago)
I only have 2 tattoos. I personally found the back my neck was less painful than my wrist
Aaron Evans (10 days ago)
A well of knowledge!! Thanks James!
ayoub (10 days ago)
my first tattoo took 3 hours
The Shangry Llamas (10 days ago)
I actually can't get my blood drawn because I pass out, but getting tattoos is no big deal, I'm totally fine. I wonder why that is. Maybe it's a difference between a lot of blood loss over a period of time and a lot of blood loss over a short period of time.
The Shangry Llamas (10 days ago)
James Withee interesting. I had to get my blood drawn every 3 months up until I was 16 and couldn't do it because I would pass out, that's right when I started having frequent seizures. I figured that had something to do with it and it probably does to some extent :P
James Withee (10 days ago)
I'm pretty sure it's totally mental. Ppl don't pass out because they're losing blood when they get tattoos or shots. They pass out because their blood vessels constrict and limit flow to the brain. It's called a vasovagal response
tatiana :") (10 days ago)
Ribs don’t hurt
Jay Wade (11 days ago)
Unless your pain tolerance is really low... it’s more of an annoying constant “pain”.. the beginning of your first tattoo is going to hurt like a bitch because you’ve never felt it before.
Jay Stylez (12 days ago)
does a tatto on youre hand hurts a lot?😅
CbirdLyn (12 days ago)
I kept myself distracted by reading. That helped me a lot. As soon as I didn't focus on the pain it was less painful
Pixie Soldier (12 days ago)
i get tattoo 6 days ago. I was there 5hours and it was actualy nice. i was chill as fuuk :) even girl was soo hot ;)
Victoria Davis (15 days ago)
I always describe the pain almost as if you’re scratching a sunburn. The longer you’re getting tattooed for the more sensitive and stingy it gets. It’s genuinely not bad though and should not detour you from getting one.
Inked Skin Deep (15 days ago)
Cat scratch on a sunburn. Thats what i tell people when they ask.
Ashleigh Thompson (17 days ago)
advice. I got a large coloured tattoo done about 5 weeks ago and during the process my whole body was shaking badly it died down when I got coloured as I started to focus on my phone game. but I have never had this experience before I have had tattoos before but never had shakes.. I was feeling cold I did eat.. I am just concerned that it will happen again
Ashleigh Thompson (5 days ago)
+James Withee I can't now have tattoos due to health reasons :-( but it's ok 8 is enough
James Withee (17 days ago)
honestly can't call it on that one. you might just have a really low pain tolerance and it is what it is
Rowell Gandollas (17 days ago)
kay_ cake_ (17 days ago)
I just did a tattoo yesterday it's a cover up and today I can't move it hurt so bad is that a bad thing or it's normal ?
James Withee (17 days ago)
it's normal for a tattoo to be sore the next day, especially if it's a lot of work all in one session. sometimes, when a tattoo is infected, it will hurt WAY more than normal. but there are other signs that go along with infection in most cases that would let you know if that was the case. as long as the surface of your skin looks smooth and intact, and there isn't any insane amount of redness / discharge, you're okay. when in doubt ask your tattoo artist and / or doctor
Anthony Capponi (18 days ago)
When my buddies ask me how much my tattoos hurt or what it felt like getting a tattoo, I describe it as having sunburned skin and having a cat scratch that sunburnt skin
un named (19 days ago)
I think you can't really explain tattoo pain to people it mostly depends on their own pain tolerance. My most common answer to people who ask me if it hurts: "It hurts". for myself only my first tattoos did hurt because I wasn't familiar with it but the more I got on my body the less pain I felt. I am now at 14 tattoos got both arms covered and my whole chest and I only feel pain if the session goes beyond 5+ hours.
Morgan Jones (19 days ago)
My first tattoo was on my shoulder blade. And that was painful... And to me the pain feels like the tattoo is carved in with a knife 🤔 Now after 4 tattoos i've got many tattoo ideas to come. 👍🏻💪
Jose Mendez (20 days ago)
Short version, it’s a needle stabbing you and then dragging through your skin.
max mercury (20 days ago)
crazy cause the spine is the place that hurts the least for me! the place that hurts the most for me is the fingers!
QueeferSutherland (20 days ago)
In terms of "pain is relative," I think a great point of this was made in Ernst Jünger's "Storm of Steel." For those that don't know, this book was written by a young German man and his experience in WW1. In it, he would go through moments where he was witnessing friends blown apart, shot in the head, gassed to death, etc. He dealt with witnessing all of this in the frontline trenches as just a matter of course - this was his job. He wasn't incredibly disturbed by any means. In another part of the book, while being transported in a truck outside of a combat zone, the driver had to get out of the truck and manually start the engine. He slipped and gouged his thumb open. To witnessing this, Jünger felt incredibly ill and wanted to vomit at the sight of it. So context is everything. I thought about him throughout my last tattoo and that toughened me the hell up - he got shot in the head and got shot through the lungs and kept fighting. The little scratchy feeling from a tattoo machine was nothing compared to what he and millions of others had to experience. I highly recommend bringing this book with you to a session.
QueeferSutherland (20 days ago)
Just had my tricep tattoo. Actually felt pretty nice through part of it. There was no unbearable part really, it was just like someone drawing really hard with a pen and the vibrations outside of that pen feeling spot was comfy.
Nativeshooter83 (20 days ago)
Wet your paper towels and it will feel good not hurt
James Withee (20 days ago)
Paper towels don't do a good job of absorbing ink when they are wet.. It's not like we tattoo artists haven't thought of that
Madison Kuhl (20 days ago)
I only think the sternum/stomach is so bad because breathing is difficult. It didnt hurt nearly as i thought it was going to be. Just feels super weird
James Withee (19 days ago)
my whole chest is done. and i was a huge poon the whole time lmao u win some u lose some
Madison Kuhl (20 days ago)
James Withee my stomach piece is very large so i couldnt be a pussy about it 😂
James Withee (20 days ago)
U are tougher than me if u think that. The sternum is the only place on my body that was hard for me to sit thru
Eric Biera (21 days ago)
What you have that took 12 hours? I set for 6 hours on my Shin down with the Virgin Mary
Eric Biera (20 days ago)
+James Withee wow!
James Withee (21 days ago)
It was in my left upper arm. Single needle work, so it took forever. That was one of many sessions
Eric Biera (21 days ago)
12 hours, your a beast
Xy0ud0ntkn0wmeX (21 days ago)
A few more critical items that determine level of pain. These are just my opinions and not stated as "fact": 1. Size of the tattoo. Of course a larger tattoo typically translates to a longer session (which has already been covered in the video). But the amount of "jumping around" that the artist needs to do , from one area to another, really impacts the pain level. If the artist gets settled in to one particular area, that area you get more used to the sensation and that area becomes almost numb. If he/she gets moving from one area to another (say with a certain color), each new region of the tattoo is subject to "learning" what the pain feels like, if that makes sense. 2. Lining vs. shading. Not sure if it's just me, but lining hurts WAY more than shading, especially with a tight 3 or something like that. Shading is always such a relief. I'm not a tattooer (avid collector, though), but I assume that the larger needle groupings (thick mags) for shading translate to the sensation being distributed across a larger surface area meaning less concentrated pain. Also, going back to my #1 above, linework seems to quickly move across body geography so you never really get used to a single ares. So tattoos with lots of little linework details will hurt more than those with simple outlines and lots of shading. 3. Skill/technique of the artist. How an artist applies the tattoo, speed of machine, depth of needles, speed the artist works, frequency of wiping, etc. all have an impact pain levels. Artists, chime in if I'm speaking out of term, here. I've had tattoos applied in typically painful areas that felt great and others applied in areas that are supposed to be painless that felt awful. Not sure if this is something that comes from artist experience or if it's been taught/passed down to them.
Jenny Trocki (21 days ago)
The back of my thigh hurt so bad
Jen R (22 days ago)
Trust me, getting my tattoo removed by laser hurt like 10 times more than the tattoo itself. For real, I can do anything now. Tattoos are a joke.
Sean S. (22 days ago)
Very good synopsis it sounds like. I don’t have any cuz I’m one of the many that think it’s looks ratty and people that have tats say they wanna be different and look different and be one of a kind, when sorry, you look just like the rest with a whole bunch of tats lol. Sometimes just watching tat videos gives me the urge, but then I remember that it really doesn’t look good....just my opinion though
Giant Dad (22 days ago)
So I'm fucked, because I usually don't hurt myself.
Shi Shar (23 days ago)
Woa.. I was just checking and would always not finish these kinds of video s but I think I got hypnotized. This dude knows how to talk interestingly despite talking in monotone 😂
lazyfuck (23 days ago)
Are you framing your video shots to the golden ratio? 🤔
James Withee (17 days ago)
nah just whatever looks good to me
Cesar Gee (23 days ago)
How many needles make a difference
Adrian Boomin (23 days ago)
Can you sleep during a session or no
Adrian Boomin (22 days ago)
James Withee oh ok thank you
James Withee (23 days ago)
Yeah ppl do it all the time
Krame Game (24 days ago)
Exactly. I have 13 tattoos(not a whole lot) but by far the worst was the ribs. Neck isn’t too bad and forearm is a cake walk.
Elise Konicov (24 days ago)
What about the butt? Like right smack dab in the middle of the cheek? I'm getting mine in exactly 1 month from now so I wanna know beforehand so i can prepare and not act like a pussy
James Withee (17 days ago)
i've heard mixed opinions on the butt. it's hard to say
Harmony Cia Celine (25 days ago)
So, I'm planning on getting a tattoo on my hand .. it's gonna cover my entire hand and I know it's gonna hurt like hell. This is gonna be my first tattoo and I'm terrified but I know in the end it will be worth it
eyoub hashemi (25 days ago)
Was in a tattoo session i was about to blow my brains out honestly. The sitting is the worst part for anyone getting a big tattoo
James Withee (25 days ago)
haha jk i know exactly how u feel. that's why it's best to bring a tablet and some headphones or something just in case the artist isn't very talkative. sitting there bored for a long ass time is the worst part of the whole thing imo
James Withee (25 days ago)
suicide is nothing to joke about man. seriously
kristina brown (25 days ago)
Rib cage and hip are a bitch !!!!
GoomyW. (26 days ago)
Just for the people who are nervous of the pain: I suffer from a chronic pain condition called fibromyalgia and it hurts just to touch me. I feel like my limbs are constantly on fire. I have my arm, wrist, elbow and sternum tattooed. It honestly only hurts after about 3+ hours when your body gets run down, but ive never taken breaks on my tattoos. Do not get put off by pain, its totally worth it!
Dagnabbitz19 (26 days ago)
I've sat for 14 hours straight, and 10 hours straight along with some shorter sessions. About 9 hours in, my body feels like I need to shiver and I have to take a 15-30 minute break get my body feeling warm again. Also, I think the wiping is the most painful part. I can sit for as long as my artist can tattoo, as long as i get that 30 minute break to warm up about 9-10 hours in.
I Marie (27 days ago)
The wiping kills 😭😭
A Sabetti (27 days ago)
You do not cry you just curse Yes
Zak The Ripper Z (29 days ago)
Thank you !This really answered all of my questions so far, soon i will be getting my first tattoo and ive decided to get a full sleeve as my first and.. honestly pain is no stranger to me but i just wanted to get an idea about how it "feels"
Jack Theripper (29 days ago)
I have many tattoos, the ditch is very painful, (inside the elbow)
GoomyW. (24 days ago)
Jack Theripper update: it fucking killeddds
Jack Theripper (26 days ago)
Sorry, but it's true.
GoomyW. (26 days ago)
Jack Theripper oh dude why did i have to see this, im getting mine tattooed in 2 days
Dalton Greene (29 days ago)
Can you tattoo over scars?
Dalton Greene (26 days ago)
stifledbabsie (28 days ago)
My husband covered up a huge scar on his shoulder blade area from a surgery. It's beautiful. It took a while for the color to stick, though, I think.
T Doh (1 month ago)
Aye I know this video is old. I skated from age 7 all the way till I was like 19. Tons of stitches, broken bones etc. had a high pain tolerance towards that. But, going an getting my first tattoo I got nauseous Had to lay down. I think it was more of anxiety than anything cause once I laid down the tattoo didn’t bother me.
James Withee (1 month ago)
it's prolly cuz your blood sugar was low. it's called a vasovagal response. u gotta eat a big meal before you go in. that usually prevents that sort of thing from happening
Dahlia Legacy (1 month ago)
I've only ever come close to passing out once and that was after I donated blood and went to martial arts class. >.< I've had my share of bad choices. lol And it's not a good idea to do anything physical after donating blood. It was weird though, everything just whited out in my vision, I didn't get the typical tunnel vision. I couldn't see for a bit though and that was really weird. I just stayed still until my senses came back. So it's probably not a good idea to donate blood then go get a tattoo, I'm assuming. lol
Jeremiah Ramsey (1 month ago)
You're awsome
Niromada (1 month ago)
Cat scratch? My mom her cat scratches others ALOT and it doesn't hurt in my opinion
Niromada (29 days ago)
Hell yea 8)
James Withee (1 month ago)
u good then
Kyle Murphy (1 month ago)
Talking about this is making mine really itch
paisa 408 (1 month ago)
Yo i felt the same and i was like what is this XD
Blazed Tracks (1 month ago)
Worst thing about getting a tattoo: When your nearly finished a full session then the artist tattoos over a part that's tender.
Blazed Tracks (1 month ago)
My shoulder hurt quite a lot went from a cat scratch to a razer but it's bearable
Christian Leiter (1 month ago)
Ive got my inner bicep and my entire chest done. Its such an addictive painful sensation 😂
Sunshine Melon (1 month ago)
Do chest tattoos hurt and do back tattoos hurt ?
Deviant (1 month ago)
It’s the amount of fat that causes the amount of pain. For example your wrist hurts more because there is barely any fat around it so the needle is hitting your bone which obviously would hurt more than a needle hitting the middle of your ass cheek which is surrounded by fat.
James Withee (1 month ago)
Deviant (1 month ago)
James Withee yeah lol At the end of the day your the expert You know more than I do but I wouldn’t think getting a ass tattoo would hurt unless u flat as hell lol 😂
James Withee (1 month ago)
i think fat does have something to do with it. cushions the blow so to speak. but i have also heard that the ass hurts so i dunno bout that specific area
Vlad RVA (1 month ago)
what about neck tatoos ? i mean near the adams apple ?
James Withee (1 month ago)
yeah i herd the throat sux ass. but the side of the neck is pretty average in my experience tattooing that area
Harambe G (1 month ago)
I’m backwards my tattoos hurt more at the beginning and after a while I just tune the pain out. I’ve had 7 hour sessions on my sleeves and the pain definitely decreases. For me the most painful spots were on my thighs right above the kneecaps. Fuck that lol
Deandra (1 month ago)
Geez hand tattoos hurts so much but especially at the very top near the cuticles...felt like my fingers were slowly getting sliced LOL
Iv_painful_vI (1 month ago)
So if I get one on my shoulder how much that bitch going hurt
James Withee (1 month ago)
Big Rhino 420 (1 month ago)
The way you filming this seems like an ad tbh 😂
You wish (1 month ago)
My first tattoo took an hour and a half
xxxdee88 (1 month ago)
Tattoos don’t hurt pussy
longshaftsas 1987 (1 month ago)
Longest i sit is 2 hours thats enough for me seriously
ryan morales (1 month ago)
lol " rails on their nuts " shout out to scarred

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